Xavier vs Dillard at the Bleu Devil Classic is the GCAC Men’s Basketball Game of the Week
NEW ORLEANS (GCAConf.com) – Though Talladega has wrapped up the GCAC regular season championship and the top seed in next week’s conference tournament, the final weekend of the regular season is still filled with plenty of drama. Philander Smith visits Tougaloo with the Panthers still vying for third place in the standings and the Bulldogs trying to avoid falling back to sixth. Talladega looks to complete its second consecutive one-loss GCAC campaign on the road against Edward Waters. But the biggest game of the week takes place in New Orleans as long-time rivals Dillard and Xavier square off with the second seed in the GCAC on the line.
Saturday, February 26
Philander Smith (13-14, 6-5 GCAC) at Tougaloo (12-11, 4-7) (Tip-off 5:00 PM CT): The last time these two schools played they combined for 216 points as Philander Smith topped the Bulldogs 115-101, so expect another high scoring affair at The Dawg Pound. Between the two teams five players come into the game averaging 15 points or more. Though their records are not what either team expected, these are still two of the most talented teams in the GCAC. Combined they have six wins against teams ranked in the NAIA Coaches’ Top 25.
Players to watch: Ronald March, Philander Smith: For two seasons Ronald March has been one of the most dynamic scorers in the GCAC, but in the last four games he hasn’t found his stroke, averaging 11.3 points during that stretch. If he gets hot, he could carry the Panthers to a second GCAC tournament title in four years. If he stays cold, PSC’s season could end very soon.
De’Andre Scott, Tougaloo: Scott has scored 30 points or more in three straight contests and is averaging 27.4 points per game over his last five contests. Defenses will key on Quintarius Porter, and Scott has proven more than capable of taking advantage when they do.
No. 3 Talladega (23-4, 10-1) at Edward Waters (12-15, 4-7) (Tip-off 5:00 PM CT): Talladega’s road to the GCAC regular season crown hasn’t been as smooth this season as it was last year, but the Tornadoes find themselves comfortably atop the conference standings nonetheless. Don’t expect Talladega to take this game off with nearly a week to rest before the conference tournament. Edward Waters certainly won’t be taking this game lightly. The Tigers could move up to fifth in the GCAC standings with a win and a Tougaloo loss. Talladega won the first meeting in the series 94-70.
Players to watch: Jordan Washington, Talladega: Washington, one of the leading contenders for conference Player of the Year, has been making his case as of late. In his last three games he is averaging 24.7 points on 46 percent shooting. He has 16 games with at least 20 points this season and four games with 30 points or more.
Oceann Maddox, Edward Waters: Maddox may be the most improved player in the conference this season. He’s averaging career highs in points (11.1), rebounds (9.2), steals (1.3), and three-point shooting (42.2). He’ll need to come up big for the Tigers to have a chance to knock off the Tornadoes.
GCAC Game of the Week
Xavier (19-10, 6-5) at No. 25 Dillard (17-10, 7-4) (Tip-off 5:00 PM CT): It’s been a while since this game was played for something other than bragging rights, especially since Xavier has been doing so much of the bragging as of late. The Gold Rush have won 14 of the last 15 meetings between the two schools, including a 69-61 win at Xavier on Feb. 6. That loss knocked Dillard right out of the Top 25. A win for Xavier would give them the number two seed in the conference and extend Coach Dannton Jackson’s streak of 20-win seasons to six. A win for the Bleu Devils would clinch them the second seed as well as snap a six-game losing streak to their rivals. The game is a definite contrast in styles as Dillard will try to push the tempo while Xavier will look to limit possessions and run its offense. The crowd will be loud and the players will be ready. The Bleu Devil Classic should live up to its name.
Players to watch: Morris Wright, Xavier: GCAC fans should take the time to appreciate the senior guard from Zachary, La., sits just 24 points away from 1500 in his career. He’s carried the Gold Rush all season long and would love nothing better than to silence the crowd at Dent Hall with another win.
Demetric Austin, Dillard: History doesn’t mean much to Austin or most of his teammates when it comes to the rivalry between Dillard and Xavier. Dillard has made plenty of its own history this season with its best season in over a decade. The reigning GCAC Player of the Week seems ready after averaging 29 points and seven rebounds in two games last week. He’ll have to keep his cool this time around after being ejected late in the first meeting between these two.